Thursday, 27 June 2013

Whose house is it?

Having hunted for months and found the perfect home to fit their needs and their budget, home buyers keen to close a deal must first make sure that the seller they are dealing deal with is, in fact, the legal owner of the property.

“We have seen the tragic results of the land scams in which bogus ‘owners’ fleece poor people desperate for a place to build a home out of their life savings,” said Braam de Jager, national operations manager of Aida, a well-known estate agency group.

“But problems can also arise in the more formal real estate market if the person who signs the offer to purchase does not actually own the property – even if there is not the same intention to defraud the buyer.”

It happens, for example, that elderly parents who have moved to a retirement home will leave the sale of the family home to an adult child, or that an owner who has moved will ask a friend to handle the sale, he notes.

“And such situations can lead to unexpected – and costly – delays in the transfer of the property, or even to cancellation of the transaction, if at the last minute the real owners decide to make a counter-offer – or simply change their minds about selling.

“It would be terrible if you had spent months finding just the right new home only to learn that you could not take transfer after all.

“Even worse, you might then miss out on acquiring another property at a good price while waiting for the legal tangle to be cleared up and your deposit to be refunded.

You might even have to incur the additional cost of renting accommodation while you go back to search for a home.”

The problem, De Jager says, comes down to the fact that the law does not stipulate that the seller of “immovable” property such as a house or flat must actually be the owner of that property.

“It does, however, stipulate that the person registered in the Deeds Office as the owner is the only person legally entitled to sign off on the transfer.

“Home seekers can avoid such potentially costly mix-ups by dealing only with properly qualified and experienced estate agents.”

No comments:

Post a Comment